EPIK HIGH – “DON’T HATE ME”
For reasons I cannot explain, I wasn’t too fond of Epik High‘s “Don’t Hate Me” when it first debuted. It wasn’t so much its pop-ness, because I was completely fine with that aspect of the song, but something … else. Perhaps it was the tacky visual levels of the music video? Well, whatever. What I do know is that now, after spending some time relishing in Epik High’s comeback album ‘99‘, the effects of this song have suddenly clicked, and I’m feeling it.
The uplifting melodies and pop-rock direction gave Epik High’s rap leads a really fun atmosphere to play in and came across as fun and quirky as they were intended to be. In fact, the idea of Epik High unloading all these bright pop elements at this moment in their career felt just right, and it was a pleasant change in pace from everything they’ve already done. I mean, we have an entire repertoire of awesome rap and hip-hop ditties to enjoy, that a full on major label Epik High project hasn’t, in any way, detracted from their musical integrity. Rather, it has enhanced it. – McRoth
EXO – “INTO YOUR WORLD (ANGEL)”
Oh, EXO. How far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. We developed such an odd relationship long before your debut, yet I’ve somehow come to forgive your million teasers and bold (albeit refurbished) sound, as I’ve also come to admire the ambitious fervor behind it all. You were clean and crisp in the advances before your debut, while sloppy and self-conscious once you were here. Yet, through all the hype and the gloss, you’ve grown. You’ve grown as performers and you’ve grown on me as idols. I have a fucking favorite now. I may even secretly stan you little shits. Not because SM Entertainment made it so easy to, but because you’re starting to show so much promise as one of SM’s strongest debuting rookies to date and your talent is palpable. It’s obvious.
The one moment that truly set you on my radar though, is when I listened to your song, “Into Your World (Angel)“. Not only is it pretty, it’s ridiculously beautiful. From the distant high hats to the subtle tambourine, metronome-like claps and airy harmonies. Everything falls perfectly into place, and your gorgeous voices shine like gems in every fucking second of this breathtaking number. And then that chorus. My God, what a chorus. It sets a solid, paved road in your future to do incredibly great things with your talent and I am all in, baby. – McRoth
More from EXO this year:
“What is Love” Review
‘MAMA’ Mini-Album Review
Tracking EXO Planet
“History” MV | “This Is Love” MV | “MAMA” MV
F(X) – “ELECTRIC SHOCK”
What SM Entertainment did with f(x) this year was interesting, if I may say so. On the one hand, they managed to retain all the uniqueness of the group, while on the other revamp and improve the execution dramatically. f(x)’s comeback album was, admittedly, a strong one and while nothing was as aggressively cavity-inducing as their 2011 work, it was certainly still impressive and as electrifying as its title implies.
While we touched on f(x) in the Mid-Year Roundup, I have to chime in and show lead single “Electric Shock” some love, as it kind of sorta became a staple in my music library. With its addicting hook, interesting syncopation, and crisp production value, f(x) nana-na-na-na-na-ed their way into my subconscious. It’s also worth giving a shout-out to remixer Rex, who blew my mind to smithereens this summer when he released this glorious remix of “Electric Shock”, which I may or may not still listen to more than the original and may or may not have been the sole reason why this song is on this list … fabulous job, buddy! – McRoth
More from f(x) this year:
‘Electric Shock’ Mini-Album Review
“Electric Shock” MV
G-DRAGON – “ONE OF A KIND”
I am such a big fan of G-Dragon‘s ‘Heartbreaker‘ debut solo album of 2009 (the physical album itself still sits atop my desk at home), that living up to it somehow felt like a tough undertaking for the feisty BIGBANG leader. Yet, true to form, the dude went and nailed it again with his 2012 solo release of ‘One of a Kind‘.
While the mini-album felt less cohesive to me as a whole, the individual tracks themselves remained top notch. No song proved this best than the title track, “One of a Kind”, which blended GD’s current hip-hop inclination with the always tight YG production value. The end result: a far stronger version of what TOP‘s “Turn It Up” 2010 solo track could never be. – McRoth
More from G-Dragon this year:
‘One of a Kind’ Mini-Album Review
“One of a Kind” MV | “That XX” MV | “Crayon” MV
GA-IN FEAT. YOON JONG SHIN – “GAZE”
Head bobbing percussions, spare keyboard, and moody piano. It’s to no one’s surprise that I live for Yoon Jong Shin‘s work, and eat it all up like a starving dog. But his work for Brown Eyed Girls‘ maknae, Ga-In, had me transfixed since its release. The combination of soft piano and electronic drone effects mixed with the drums is sexy and gorgeous.
If that was it, “Gaze” would still be great, but Ga-In and Yoon Jong Shin’s delivery of the lyrics bring the ballad to cloud nine. And like a cloud, the climax brings you down easy, just like good sex should. – drowningn00b
More from Ga-in this year:
‘Talk About S’ Mini-Album Review